Come From Away Brisbane Review @ QPAC

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'Come From Away' 'Come From Away' Image © Jeff Busby

Based on a true story that will take you to a place that you’ll never want to leave. You’ll be laughing, crying, tapping your feet, and singing along all night!


On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all. 'Come From Away' tells these stories, capturing them in a humorous, yet emotional performance. Based in a small town in Newfoundland, Canada, it follows the moment the ‘islanders’ hear the news, and the emotions that fill them as thousands of stranded international travellers fill their town. Cultures clash and nerves run high but uneasiness turns into trust, music soars into the night and gratitude grows into enduring friendships. Award-winning husband and wife authors David Hein and Irene Sankoff (book, music and lyrics), travelled to Newfoundland and interviewed thousands of locals, listening to and compiling their stories to share them with the world. The result is the worldwide smash hit, 'Come From Away'.

'Come From Away' is fast-paced and highly emotional. It features a total cast of 12, all of whom are on the stage for almost the entirety of the performance, yet despite the lack of break, they never miss a beat. Every move, word, action, and wardrobe change is executed perfectly and synchronised astoundingly, making the show seamless and engaging from the opening word to the final bow. With so many stories to tell and so many voices to hear, each cast member plays between two and five characters each, differentiating each one with a scarf, hat, accent and gait. The audience is never confused, and the character changes are simply fascinating, adding to the overall complex simplicity of the show.

The set is one to be inspired by. Never does the set change, yet the audience feels as though they’ve seen all the major buildings and areas of Gander, as well as the inside of buses and planes, through the strategic placement of neon signs, furniture, spotlights, and characters. What is a bar in one scene, is quickly transformed into the cargo hold of a plane, and with a quick shift in furniture and swap of characters, is suddenly a bus heading along a country road towards Gander. Again, the audience is never confused, and is swept up in the storytelling and the musical excellence that warrants the Tony and Olivier Awards that 'Come From Away' so clearly deserves.

In line with the high calibre of writing, cast and set design, the musicians involved in 'Come From Away' are truly admirable. Unlike traditional musicals, the band is seated on stage where the audience can see their passion, talent, and skills as they swap between instruments and genres throughout the show. However, making the show even more enjoyable, there are several segments in which the band joins the cast on stage, dancing and singing through scenes alongside the characters as if they were locals in Newfoundland, and this was just an average Saturday night. Making it all the more engaging, the energy between everyone on stage makes you quickly forget you’re sitting in a theatre, as you’re transported to a local pub in Gander, tapping your feet and singing along to a song that you didn’t realise you knew, but now can’t get out of your head.

Comefromaway JeffBusby2
Image © Jeff Busby

'Come From Away' takes you on a journey, based on the true story of the events surrounding the September 11 tragedy, and how it affected people, wherever they were. It tells so many different stories, of so many different people, from so many different cultures, countries, and walks of life. You’re taken through the joy and the pain, the waiting and the devastation, the hope and the humanity, all encapsulated in the incredibly well-written, and remarkably executed show.

You’ll feel empowered as you hear the true story of Captain Beverley Bass who was the first ever female pilot to be made a captain by American Airlines, and was one of the pilots who was instructed to divert her route to Gander. Bass is played by Zoe Gertz, a particular stand-out with her inspiring and emotional solo performances throughout the show.

You’ll feel inspired as you hear the true story of Bonnie Harris, a manager of a Gander animal shelter who’s concern when 38 planes landed in her hometown was the animals on board, and ensured any on-board animals were fed and cared for, just like their owners.

You’ll feel empathetic as you hear the true story of Hannah, one of the passengers that had been diverted and was incredibly worried about her son, who was a firefighter in Brooklyn, not too far from Ground Zero. She formed a strong bond with Gander local, Beulah, who also had a son who was a volunteer firefighter.

'Come From Away' took Melbourne by storm when it premiered in 2019, becoming the most successful musical ever staged at The Comedy Theatre and breaking all box office records. Coming to QPAC marks the sixth production of the musical worldwide, joining international productions on Broadway, in Toronto, the West End and the US National Tour, making it a must-see musical during its limited season in Brisbane.

★★★★★

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